When premier David Eby toured central B.C., including a long stop in each of Prince George, Quesnel and Williams Lake, mass-timber construction was a topic close to the surface everywhere he went.
In Prince George, two of the topics he addressed were building homes for the homeless and building a surgical tower at the University Hospital of Northern BC.
In Quesnel he toured various capital projects of the Lhtako Dene Nation.
All of these things require construction material and the labourers. Both are infamously shorthanded right now.
In Williams Lake he talked about a potential solution to both those problems at once: mass-timber construction.
According to the B.C. advocacy organization Naturally Wood, “Mass-timber uses state-of-the-art technology to glue, nail, or dowel wood products together in layers. The results are large structural panels, posts, and beams. These exceptionally strong and versatile products are known as mass-timber.”
Black Press asked Eby about this. He said, “The government has a specific strategy around mass-timber construction in the province. We have been prioritizing the use of wood, and engineered wood products, in government buildings. Our goal is to create that base economy for factories to be able to build up, to be able to provide those products to other projects across the province.”
There are three components to revving up the mass-timber solution: fibre (trees) to make it, factories to process the fibre, workforce to put it to use. The latter two are moot if the wood isn’t getting from the forest to the factories.
“The message that I’ve been sending to tenur-holders, the people who actually hold the licenses to harvest the trees, is they need to prioritize and make sure that there is access to that lumber for companies doing this value-added work, and feeding that part of the industry for our province. It’s part of our solution to climate change, it’s part of our solution to the housing crisis, it’s part of our solution to employment, and it is a public good: our forests.”